Class of '99,
We'll Pass the Torch to You ---
When We Find It
by Dave Barry
Members of the graduating Class of 1999:
When I gaze out upon you, so young and proud in your caps and gowns, the
thought that goes through my mind, as your Com-mencement speaker today, is:
Where did you get those caps? The House of Dorks?
What's the point of getting all this education if you don't have enough
sense to say "no" when the authorities tell you to attend your commencement
ceremony wearing what appears to be a pizza box?
What if the authorities told you to attend your commencement with a live
duck strapped on your head? Would you do that? I would! Think of the
advantages! When the commencement speak-er started droning away, you could
gently prod your duck with a Bic pen, and when it started quacking, you
could get up and announce: "I have to leave! There's something wrong with
That's the kind of initiative you need to show, young people. Because we
are approaching the Dawn of the New Millennium, and the question is: How
are you, the class of 1999, going to respond when the Clock-Radio of
Challenge emits the Irritating Buzz of Opportunity?
Are you going to roll over and hit the Snooze Button of Complacency? Or
are you going to wakeup and after performing the Bodily Functions of
Preparedness boldly grasp the Toothbrush of Tomorrow?
I hope so, Class of 1999. I hope you are ready to take over, because my
generation is getting old and tired. And we have good reason to be tired:
We won World War II.
No, wait, that was our parents. But my generation did watch a lot of
grueling movies about Worid War II. Then, for a while, we tried to solve
the problems of society. Eventually we gave up on that and started looking
for "closure." Today we have given up on "closure" and would settle for a
good herbal laxative.
So we're basically finished, and the time has come for us to pass the torch
on to you. But before we do, we must ask you a very important question:
Where the heck did we put the torch?
We can't find anything any more. By conservative estimate, my generation
has now spent 50 times as much time looking for its car keys as it ever
spent protest-ing war and racism. I, personally, right now, own at least
247 pairs of reading glasses, and the only way I can find any of them is
when I step on a pair in my bare feet
So it is up to you, the class of 1999, to do whatever it was I was saying
And now is the time!
Think of the opportunities you have! You have the Internet! My generation
did not have the Internet When my generation needed a piece of information,
such as the population of Rhode Island, we had to haul out the
encyclopedia, which was a bunch of dusty old heavy books that smelled like
First we had to figure out what book "Rhode Island" was in, which was
difficult because the books were labeled with Seceet Encyclopedia Code
phrases such as "Quisling - Rotogravure." Then we had to manually look up
"Rhode Island," using the alpha-bet, which, like long division, and the
song "Polly Wolly Doodle", is probably not taught in schools anymore.
Then we had to hunt around for the population statistics, which were
comically jnaccurate because our encyclopedias were al-ways way out or
date, having been written when were only about 17 states and scientists
thought the Moon was carried across the sky by a big turtle.
Things are much easier for you, the class of 1999, thanks to the Internet.
All you have to do is type in the words "population of Rhode Island" into
your comput-er, and within a few seconds, the number appears on your
comput-er screen: 467,298.
This is not the population of Rhode Island, of course: This is the number
of web sites that have contain the words "population," "Rhode," "Island" or
"of". So you start clicking away with your mouse pointer, and, 14 hours
lat-er, you find yourself looking at a Web site titied "Poison Frogs of the
Congo Delta". You have no idea how you got there, except that along the
way you purchased two weeks in February at a time-share condominium in
Saskatchewan and saw 583 pictures of Pamela Anderson naked.
This was not possible in my day, class of 1999! We didn't even have Pamela
Yes, it's a bright new world you're entering, Class of 1999 - a world that
will offer many excit-ing career opportunities, such as tattoo removal,
which, trust me, is going to be the next Internet, once you all start
having children and get tired of explaining to them how come mommy and
daddy have bad words written on their butts.
Ha ha! I wish I could be there to see it! Unfortunately, by then I'll be
spending pretty much full time looking for my dentures.
In closing, let me leave you with the words of the great educator Dr.
Quisling P. Rotogravure, who said: "Fare thee well; fare thee well; sing
polly wolly doodle all the day."
Remember those words, class of 1999. And put sunscreen on your duck